“Don’t grab hurtful comments and pull them close to you by rereading them and ruminating on them. Don’t play with them by rehearsing your badass comeback. And whatever you do, don’t pull hatefulness close to your heart.”
Brene Brown, PhD, LMSW Author, Dare to Lead
Much of the world’s humanity is swimming in a toxic word bath. If not carefully rooted in kindness and goodwill, unbridled words easily form fiery darts to inflict human pain. Intended or not. Once undisciplined thoughts not anchored in authentic love leave the mouth, they simply swirl with existing pools of verbal trash.
Not much unlike the garbage patches of the North Pacific, South Pacific, North Atlantic, South Atlantic and Indian oceans. Countless small and microscopic pieces of floating plastic. While plastics were made from inexpensive fossil fuels, the idea was first formed with a spoken word.
An amusing scene from the 1967 film, The Graduate, but foreshadowed dire consequences of a human waste culture that has polluted the oceans. Fortunately, fresh new words are being spoken by humans around the planet to remedy the plastic plague.
A more serious threat for the Earth’s demise is embedded in the human’s tongue, languishing in a tarnished heart. Words carry energy and spirit to shape good or evil. History bears the marks of orators that have wreaked destruction or inspired healing from the ashes. It’s always a choice. On a single day there are ubiquitous word reports from corners around the globe that lean towards hope or despair.
“Between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom.” - Victor Frankl
Victor Frankl was a concentration camp survivor during the Holocaust. For most of his life following the horrific trauma, he chose to help others navigate a path of light and purpose. He taught the lesson of space-intention. By resisting the instinct of fight or flight in the midst of unspeakable circumstances, there’s a space to learn. That space is the opportunity to grow, change, and carve an intentional response filled with goodness, grace, and gratitude.
While the circumstances were between serious and comical, I found myself in that learning space recently. During a Costco gas-up experience to be exact. Stay with me. It’s my new grandkid’s story!
While I live in Roseburg, Oregon, that Saturday, October 6, 2018 I was in Eugene preparing for the drive to the Oregon coast for a Boys & Girls Club benefit at the Florence Events Center. I had purchased a $75 donation ticket several weeks before solely because the Halie Loren Quartet was the event’s musical performer. As a huge fan of her jazz/pop music, I attend all of Halie’s performances in Oregon. With anticipation for the event later that evening, I headed over to Costco to fill-up my 2005 Honda Element’s tank.
Costco is my default gasoline station in Roseburg and Eugene because I’ve come to trust it’s the lowest cost. After getting my gas tank filled, I turned the ignition key, but only heard the engine grunting. I immediately knew what that meant. For several months I had occasionally heard that sound, but even replacing the battery wasn’t the answer. Just a few days earlier, I had pinpointed the problem as a worn-out starter. Even made an appointment with Brian’s Import Auto in Roseburg to replace it. However, the earliest Brian could schedule the repair was the following Wednesday, October 10th. To my chagrin, it was obvious to everyone at the Costco gas pump station I had a problem. After several more attempts, I knew the starter had “bit the dust”. Within a few minutes of my panic, the gas station manager had my vehicle pushed forward out of line to a vacant parking spot.
While the manager offered that the tire department had a battery-jump-box, I knew that wasn’t going to remedy the problem. But, avoiding the thought of an expensive tow truck, I took him up on the offer anyway. AJ Bianchi, tire technician showed up within a minute. His calm demeanor was helpful from the start. He explained how he’d helped other customers with a battery jump. After an unsuccessful jump, he confidently went to the next step, “let’s let the battery trickle a bit and try again in 20 minutes.” Sounded better than towing to the Eugene Honda dealer for a starter replacement two days later, plus the expense of a hotel and car rental. With those expenses ramping up my anxiety, AJ’s confidence renewed hope the engine would start one-more-time so I could drive home to Roseburg for the repair. Sorry, Halie, better wisdom was guiding me to pass on your performance.
With that decision made, I took a deep, long breath, and consciously summoned my “Band of Angels.” With an optimistic mindset, I tried to start the engine. Nothing. Not a sound. I was about to be resigned to my fate when AJ offered another idea. “Put the gear in neutral so I can push the car to gain momentum, then turn the key to start the engine.” He apparently had success with this method before. Even with an automatic? I had doubts going into his plan, but AJ was resilient. With me in the driver’s seat, AJ pushed my vehicle several hundred feet on a level surface. During that span of time I turned the key switch several times with no ignition. At the moment of resignation I saw AJ in the rearview mirror, still pushing with all his strength, expecting the engine to start. That’s when it did. Halleluiah!
“When hope’s candlelight may seem to flicker, speak bravely for your Band of Angels.” The fragrance of grace was palpable!